The moment you realise you’ve just filled, or started filling your car with the wrong fuel has got to be one of the most sickening feelings in owning a car. Feeling completely helpless isn’t uncommon, but if you follow some simple steps you can make sure you don’t cause any long term damage.
If you’ve filled your car with the wrong fuel, this means the fuel tank is contaminated with the wrong fuel – and at this moment, it is just the tank – great news. If you’ve managed to catch yourself at this point, the situation is easily recoverable – at a garage with the right equipment. Just get someone to help you move to a safe place within the petrol station, without starting the engine – and call a garage – like us!
Now – the situation gets a little more complicated if you’ve started to drive the car – at this point the mixture of fuels has started to make it’s way through the fuel system, into secondary pumps and fuel filters. At this point the whole system will need draining to some extent – again this must be done with the right equipment and with modern high pressure fuel systems, if attempted using “old school” methods – can be extremely dangerous.
There are those in-between occasions where you have contaminated only a small amount of fuel – for example you’ve pumped a litre or two into the tank. It is possible to dilute the fuel you’ve already pumped by topping the tank up with the correct fuel. Despite diluting however, the seals and gaskets within your fuel system will behave differently – they are designed specifically for the correct fuel – the wrong fuel can cause them to swell or crack – particularly in higher concentrations, which can happen when the fuels separate. Therefore – even if you think you can get away with it, it’s worth calling into a a garage with the correct equipment and having the fuel system flushed – it may well save you a